Common Racing Terms

Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2002

DRAFT: Cars following nose to tail in a vacuum of calm air to divide wind resistance.

SLINGSHOT: Making a pass on the lead car by getting a running start in the vacuum of calm air

HUNG OUT TO DRY: When several cars gang up in a slingshot pass to drop the leader to the back of the running order. Also known as being drop-kicked.

DIRTY AIR: Turbulent wind created when cars race side by side. It often causes cars to lose control.

MARBLES: Area either very high or very low in the turns where small chunks of tire rubber accumulate during the race. A car that ventures too high or too low hits those marble-sized chunks, and it's like driving on ice.

KICKOUT: Forward extension of the front bumper to give more downforce to the front wheels. Kickouts are 2 1/2 inches for Chevrolet, 1 1/2 inches for Ford and Dodge and 1/2 inch for Pontiac.

SPOILER: Metal skirt across the deck of the trunk to give downforce to the rear wheels. Spoilers are 6 1/4 inches tall for Chevrolet and 6 1/2 inches for Ford, Dodge and Pontiac. All four manufacturers must stand the spoiler at a minimum angle of 55 degrees.

FRONT VALANCES: A fiberglass skirt that extends below the front bumper and restricts airflow under the car to keep the front tires from ''lifting'' at high speeds

GREENHOUSE: Glassed-in area above the door panel in the driver's compartment, including the windshield, roof, side windows and rear window.

DRAG: Resistance created by air at high speeds, much like pulling a parachute.

DOWNFORCE: Combination of aerodynamic and centrifugal forces that provides traction. Kickouts, front valances and spoilers all contribute to downforce, as does the overall design of the car body.

FRONT/BACK CLIPS: Engine and trunk areas. If damage from a crash is limited to the front or back third of the car, it can be sawed off and replaced. When the middle third the greenhouse is damaged, the car is scrapped.

GROOVE: Preferred route around the race track

LOOSE: Slang term for when the rear wheels lose grip in the corners

TIGHT: Slang term for when the front wheels lose grip and won't turn in the corners

SUPERSPEEDWAY: Any raceway of at least a mile in length

WEDGE: Balance between front to back of car using springs. The objective is to create an inverted airplane wing: one that has enough downforce to create grip, but not too much to create drag.

STICKERS: New tires

SCUFFS: Used tires

BITE: Adjustment to the rear springs that change the weight distribution from front to back or left to right to affect the car's wedge

HANDLING: Car's driving characteristics, determined by tires, suspension and aerodynamics

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